Application Review: Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed

Professional racing on the track meets the paint grinding, fast-paced, wreck-seeking arcade gameplay. This is the basis behind the Need for Speed: Shift game. Due to the success in this game, Electronics Arts decided to bring the game into its second installment. In the newest version of this game, they attempt to improve on the flaws in the previous version while upgrading everything else that was good about it. Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed offers gamers gripping gameplay, good graphics, ample audio, excellent replay, and a big bang for your buck.


I’m a fan for racing games; I’m going to be upfront about that. I have, however, found some of the NFS series to be really lacking for the iOS platform if you read through my NFS: Hot Pursuit review. With high hopes for improvements, I jumped into this game to see some improvements in stability and playability. EA answers with NFS: Shift 2 Unleashed.

Unlike Hot Pursuit, this game is targeted to show more of the actual professional racers side of the racing scene instead of the police-filled street racing one. Now, most racing games of this nature tend to become a little more boring and not as action-oriented, EA answers this with the NFS-styled gameplay. You can unprofessionally trade paint with the car next to you and gain experience points while doing it! The main game doesn’t have a story; you just go through your racing career and try to win each race. As you progress through each race, you are given stars for accomplishing things like: finishing first, second, or third, and getting an amount of style points. These stars allow you to unlock new levels.

To give yourself the edge in a race, you can upgrade parts of your car, either visually or performance wise; this is NFS after all, what would it be without customization. Performance enhancements allow you go upgrade your nitrous, acceleration, tires, speed, suspension and much more on your vehicle. These will improve how your car responds on the track. If you don’t like the way your car looks, you can easily change its rims, spoilers, paints, and mufflers.

Performance upgrades can give you the edge in a race while the visual ones make your car yours.

The control scheme in this game is fully customizable allowing you to control how you drift, activate nitrous, among other things. For more novice players, there are things that can assist your driving like auto braking and assisted steering. One minor thing I didn’t like was the swipe control for the drifting, I couldn’t figure out how to activate it. I would have also been nice to add some sort of tutorial level to teach you how to play the game.

The other thing this game offers are four distinct cameras to control your car from. Each person will have their own preference. There is the bumper-cam that allows you to see everything from the front bumper of your car. The hood-cam which is a camera angle actually taken from the roof of the car, this allows you to see the hood of the car. The rear view is the one used by most arcade racers, this one is a chaser camera that comes from behind your car giving the game more of a theatrical, action feel to the game. The final camera is from the racers helmet himself, this camera view is my preferred one.

There are four camera views for you to choose from allowing you to race how you want to.

This game has improved greatly from Hot Pursuit in the gameplay section offering exceptionally great gameplay that has both the professional feel to it as well as the thrill-packing arcade feel as well. I found this game to be a lot of fun to play.

Gameplay: ★★★★½


With a huge improvement in the gameplay section, the graphics are a different story, but in the same direction. For today’s Unreal-packed day and age, these graphics are only good. Many of the game developers need to find a way to create sleeker graphics in their games.

The graphics are actually quite good in this game, but it could definitely use some improvements.

The graphics aren’t entirely bad in the game though. Most are actually great, and every so often you’ll see something that’s picture perfect. Most of the time the graphics have great quality to them, but can use some improvements overall. The textures and lighting used is actually really nice. However, the edges were really rough and could use some smoothing out.

Ah, Chicago, almost picture perfect; don’t you just love the Willis Sears Tower? Although not all the graphics are like this, they should be.

The menus in this game are actually really nicely designed overall. The organization is great, and they aren’t hard to get used to. Some of the graphics may look blurry in the screenshots, they are not on the device itself.

The menus in this game look really nice.

Graphics: ★★★★½


When I ran the game for the first time, it started with a really familiar melody with a singer singing the lines:

I have my mother’s dreams,

I have my father’s eyes,

You can’t take that from me,

Just go ahead and try.

I was surprised I actually knew the song. Upon looking at the sound track I found other familiar artists like Anberlin and Jimmy Eat world. I really don’t remember the last iOS game I played that had a BGM with actual, well known artists in it. The fact that EA took the time to license these familiar songs does say a lot, they didn’t just skip the BGM entirely.

The sound effects are good as well, you can hear yourself run off the road, grind gears with other cars, skid, drift, and you can even hear your windshield shatter. Most of the sound effects you’d expect are there in this game and it helps complete the game really well by complementing the gameplay and graphics well.

Audio: ★★★★★


OK, now the big time developers are finally starting to see it, replay value means a lot to players. Electronic Arts adds plenty of replay into their little NFS game. After you beat the main career, they aren’t going to make you go through it again on a different difficulty level, I’m fine with this. Instead, they give you 25 increasingly difficult single player race trials. These are short challenges that can really get quite challenging.

The race trials are challenging missions that add lots of replay to the game.

If you don’t feel like doing that you can always play a single player race, or even better, go multiplayer. Shift 2 allows racers to take it on the road and challenge their friends to a local race or even challenge a stranger half a world away in an online race where the best of the best can compete. Electronic Arts really took the initiative to add replay to this game and it does wonders.

There are lots of multiplayer modes in the game, both local and online.

Replay: ★★★★★


At the release of the game, EA charged 3 dollars for this game. The official price for this game will be 5 dollars. At five dollars this game has plenty of value. Besides the hours you’ll spend beating the extensive, long career, you also have the 25 additional little challenges to do afterwards. The quality gameplay and audio, along with the great graphics and gameplay, really make this game a steal for five dollars.

Value: ★★★★★

Final Thoughts

After my major disappointments with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Electronic Arts came back to show me that they have fixed many of the problems that plagued the previous version of the game. The graphics can use some improvement though, but are great nonetheless. Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed is a great addition to the famed Shift series that EA has created. NFS: Shift 2 improves just about every aspect of the original Shift and is a must have for any racing fan; whether you like simulations or arcade, this game will not disappoint.

Final Score

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
All accessories, applications, themes, tweaks, or other products were purchased by iFans at their respective prices unless stated otherwise.
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